10 Books to Read When You’re Going through Heartbreak

Erin Burba |
7 years ago
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This is a guest post from Erin Burba. When Erin was ten, she was grounded for trying to read while riding her bike. She is a lifelong bibliophile who embarks upon obsessive reading binges on subjects ranging from polygamous cults to Helen Keller. When not working or reading, she can be found hiking, watching Jeopardy!, and searching for the perfect fruit snack. She lives in Denver, CO with her husband and son. Follow her on Twiter @erinkseals.

We’ve all been there. No matter how it happened, breakups suck. But whether you’re curled up on the couch with Gilmore Girls playing in the background, queuing up an audiobook for a cathartic post-breakup workout, or getting ready to go out and take the world by storm, these ten books will help you process what just happened, channel your inner badass, and get ready for whatever comes next.

Rising Strong by Brené Brown

Inevitably, we all fall down. This book discusses what it takes to get back up. Brené Brown (whose vulnerability Ted Talk has over 27 million views), encourages us to own our stories and use failures as an opportunity to write a powerful new ending.

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Reading this book is like spending the evening with your empathetic yet no-BS best friend. The compilation of Strayed’s once-anonymous advice column from The Rumpus website is wise, authentic and empowering.

Mortified by David Nadelberg

Sometimes the best way to soothe heartache is to laugh through the tears. Mortified (also a live show, documentary and podcast) features hilarious and cringe-inducing moments from the pre-pubescent journals of people who are now adults. Because everybody hurts… sometimes.

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

Princess Elizabeth is happily engaged to Prince Ronald until one day, a dragon comes along and burns her entire kingdom, kidnapping Prince Ronald and leaving Princess Elizabeth with nothing to wear but a paper bag. Elizabeth outsmarts the dragon only to realize that Prince Ronald is a total drip. This classic children’s book is a reminder that not every happy ending requires a prince.

Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson

This all-consuming novel explores the passionate highs and devastating lows of being in love. The narrator, who has neither name nor gender, chronicles an affair with Louise, an unhappily married woman with a terrible secret. The story is a cathartic meditation on love lost.  

Six Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: by Writers Famous and Obscure by Larry Smith

Ernest Hemingway once won a bet that he couldn’t tell a story in 6 words. His winning story? “Baby shoes for sale. Never worn.” From that tale comes the 6 Word Memoirs project, in which ordinary people succinctly tell their life stories. The love-focused compilation distills all the feelings with humor, anguish, warmth, and brevity.

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

As the first Hispanic and only third woman to preside over the Supreme Court, there is a lot to admire about Justice Sotomayor. This intimate memoir chronicles Sotomayor’s journey from a Bronx housing project to her appointment to the federal bench. Her candid narrative is a hopeful reminder of the communities we create for ourselves and the great lengths we can go to when we believe in ourselves.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail  by Cheryl Strayed

Few things are as cathartic as a post-breakup tale of self-discovery. Strayed’s memoir chronicles her quest to hike the Pacific Crest Trail following the death of her mother and subsequent dissolution of her marriage. Strayed is courageous, funny, and unflinchingly honest.

The Missing Piece Meets the Big O by Shel Silverstein

The Missing Piece is a triangle who is searching for the piece that will complete him. Some pieces are too small, some are too large. One fits at first until the Missing Piece begins to outgrow him. Eventually, the Missing Piece meets the Big O, who teaches him that no other pieces are required. Shel Silverstein’s simple book is a reminder that we are all whole once we learn to roll on our own.

All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps by Dave Isay

This collection of essays spans the spectrum of love: Love found, lost, and regained. The book, a compilation from NPR’s StoryCorps, features everyday people interviewing friends and family about their experiences with love. At turns heartbreaking and inspiring, these stories serve as a celebration of love in all its forms and a reminder that each end marks the potential for a new beginning.